Too busy to blog substantively as it is St. George’s Day …
St. George, doing his best to rid the world of endangered species
God’s Own Lunch
Gin and Marmalade cocktail (sort of a mutant Gimlet)
Tim Newman does a fine job of fisking at length an article by Rachel Nuwer on the BBC (natch!) titled: How western civilisation could collapse.
Tim is not impressed…
Read the whole thing.
In Justin Trudeau’s Canada, if I mention the Islamist ties of Akbardzhon Dzhalilov, the 22-year-old suspected of carrying out the subway bombing that killed 14 in St. Petersburg, Russia on Monday, am I guilty of Islamophobia?
What if I also mention that Khalid Masood, the man who mowed down scores of pedestrians, killing three, and stabbed a police officer to death outside the British Parliament last week, was a convert to Islam? Am I guilty of a crime against Canada’s new politically correct speech codes?
I admit, what constitutes a Muslim terror attack is not always black-and-white. Was London’s Masood driven by Islamist fervor or by his long, troubled criminal past? Or maybe a bit of both?
Canada has been heading in this direction for a while now, part of a growing list of nation states denying one of the most most fundamental civil liberties: freedom of expression.
After reading an unrelentingly grim article by Suzy Hansen, describing the collapse of the rule of law in Turkey in the aftermath of the failed coup in July 2016, I noticed one problem with what had been written.
I recalled a dinner in Istanbul with a couple bon vivant UN diplomats, less than a week before the abortive uprising. During our congenial discussions, fuelled by some excellent Turkish craft beer, the three of us realised that we were using terms like ‘right’, ‘left’, ‘nationalist’ and ‘conservative’ to mean rather different things as we were British, Turkish and Czech respectively. By Turkish definitions, as I was neither religious nor nationalist, I was automatically on the left, regardless of the fact I am a laissez faire free trader. The Turkish chap ‘assigned’ me to the centre-left, to differentiate me from socialists or communists… it seemed vastly amusing at the time (of course that might have been the beer laughing).
Although Suzy Hansen’s linked article in the New York Times is not without merit, this made me realise how unwise she was to bandy about terms like ‘left’ and ‘right’ when describing Turkey to an American readership: the bad guys of the article are on the right, so perhaps some US readers might conclude Erdogan’s AKP are something like the Republicans? Er, not really. In fact not in the slightest. Given the radically different cultural, political and historical frames of reference between the USA and Turkey, there are simply no meaningful analogies to be made other than at the far fringes.
It is rather hazy what ‘left’ and ‘right’ mean in Britain or America these days, let alone what they mean elsewhere. Comparing political labels in different countries is always fraught with risk and more likely to confuse than enlighten. Michael Jennings of this parish often becomes exasperated when folk in London try to compare UK and Australian political parties, as the attempt usually falls at the second fence… and this is between two countries with vastly more shared history.
Was Trump’s strike on Syria motivated by geopolitical considerations or… genuine concern about the use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces (and they have form for that)… or the need to demonstrate he is not in Putin’s pocket? Or something else?
Now, of course, there are many hazards that either forestall or destroy the accumulation of capital – tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, plagues etc. but I sincerely doubt that there is any peril as destructive or as persistent to capital accumulation as government.
– John W
Of course, England has been here before. The EU (that’s the Pope and the whole of Catholic Europe) excommunicated Queen Elizabeth and barred all trade with us; not even a WTO-terms deal, only a bit of state-sanctioned piracy and smuggling kept us going. In reaction we went further afield to find new trade partners and accidentally founded the British Empire, established dominance of the seas and oceans and led the world in trade and commerce. They did us a favour, really.
– Raedwald, taking a few liberties but making a great point 😀
It is possible to go through an entire education to PhD level in the very best schools and universities in the British system without any of your teachers or professors breathing the words “Friedrich Hayek”. This is a pity.
Hayek died 25 years ago today, yet his ideas are very relevant to the 21st century. He was the person who saw most clearly that knowledge is held in the cloud, not the head, that human intelligence is a collective phenomenon.
If Hayek is mentioned at all in academia, it is usually as an alias for Voldemort. To admire Hayek is to advocate selfishness and individualism. This could not be more wrong. What Hayek argued is that human collaboration is necessary for society to work; that the great feature of the market is that it enables us to work for each other, not just for ourselves; and that authoritarian, top-down rule is not the source of order or progress, but a hindrance.
If you have not seen these short documentaries… Part 1 from 2016, Part 2 from 2017, it well worth your time.
I can see this exchange in the very near future…
Prospective Employer: “So which university did you go to?”
Prospective Employee: “Um, actually I didn’t go to univers…”
Prospective Employer: “You’re hired!”
But Scottish nationalism is a blind and unreasoning beast, appeals to logic and sentiment will get us nowhere, and we should recognise this fact. If one seriously believes that the Scottish people are being oppressed and having their democratic rights trampled by the Evil English, or that they somehow lack their due influence in our nation’s government despite enjoying political devolution and autonomy far greater than that enjoyed by the UK’s most populous home nation, then a sensible discussion cannot be had.
Evaluating film based on the criteria of diversity can only diminish it. Rather than encouraging people to take a chance and watch films out of their comfort zone, it will instead add more weight to the idea that only certain types of people can, and should, enjoy certain types of films. It also suggests that certain films have authority not because of their artistry, but simply because they are ‘diverse’.
Ah what a gem this is:
Unlike the not-so-dark net, which is never used by criminals?
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